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Women's Month News

#WomensMonth: Nadia Mohamed; "We lift and others rise"

As part of our Women's Month content feature and in the build-up to our panel discussion with some of this year's Gerety Awards all-female South African executive jury members, taking place in September, Jessica Tennant, senior editor: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity, interviews this year's jury to find out what a woman has to do to get onto an advertising jury, what the opportunity means to them and the significance of these Awards given the current state of gender equality...

The Gerety Awards, founded by Joe Brooks and Lucia Ongay is relatively new, having launched in 2019. It brings together all-female juries from across the globe to shortlist the best in advertising – all advertising, not just advertising made for women – through the female lens.

The Awards was named after Frances Gerety, the copywriter who coined the slogan ‘a diamond is forever’. So, instead of categories, the Awards are judged by cuts (as in diamond cuts), of which there are 10.

This year, there are a total of 180 new jury members from 30 different countries. Pre-Covid-19, judging sessions were hosted in each host city and the shortlists submitted to the international grand jury of creative experts for final evaluation, but of course, this year’s judging sessions are having to take a different format. Joe Brooks explains that “the judging would have taken place at the VMLY&R offices, with Jacquie as the ambassador. The date had been set for Monday, 1 June and we would have judged and discussed a number of categories of entries from around the world. The same week judging sessions would have taken place in London, New York, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Melbourne, Milan, Istanbul, Helsinki and Berlin. Due to the ‘corona’, all judging is taking place remotely and online over a four-week period with group calls in the middle of the judging to discuss favourite pieces.”

This year’s South African executive jury includes: Jacquie Mullany, ECD, VMLY&R; Mpume Ngobese, MD, Joe Public; Sanche Jansen van Rensburg, ECD, Avatar; Simone Bosman, founder and creative, Osu & Kumalo; Neo Segola, ECD, FCB Africa; Sarah Dexter, CEO, Mullen Lowe; Nadia Mohamed, marketing director, McCain; Emma Strydom, head of design, Network BBDO; Juliet Honey, creative, Freelance; Suhana Gordhan, ECD, FCB; Linda Notelovitz, director/producer and founder, Life Design; Liezel Bygate, marketing director, Bliss Brands; Monalisa Zwambila, CEO, Riverbed; Loli Bishop, producer, Freelance; and Fiona O'Connor, creative director, Havas. Look out for our online panel discussion featuring some of these remarkable women in advertising in September after the shortlists have been announced.

Next up, Nadia Mohamed, marketing director at Mondelēz International, who believes that “encouraging women to make optimal use of our distinctly feminine psychology in service of achieving our goals can only improve the current state of corrosion in the gender equality journey”…

#WomensMonth: Nadia Mohamed; "We lift and others rise"

The Awards recognise the best advertising (not just advertising made for women) through the female lens. Comment on the significance of this given the current state of feminism / gender equality / women’s empowerment.

Mohamed: Two words come to mind ‘empathy’ and ‘care’. So many women have been the dissenting voices helping each other rise. Millions of women are saying it’s enough, for example #MeToo. Thank you Tarana Burke for igniting that movement.

Encouraging women to make optimal use of our distinctly feminine psychology in service of achieving our goals can only improve the current state of corrosion in the gender equality journey. A node of thanks to the Gerety Awards for the brave point of view and positioning, which will have a significant impact on the industry for generations to come. I'm honoured to serve as part of the jury and movement.

As part of its call for entries campaign, the Awards sent purple moustaches to prominent female leaders in the advertising industry, and asked them to pose for a picture with the question: What does a woman have to do to get onto an advertising jury? How would you answer that question – what does a woman have to do to get onto an advertising jury?

Mohamed: Firstly, when women identify what is holding them back, this helps to recognise what investments they needed to make them grow across participation forums.

Understanding the societal, organisational and personal factors that may hold women back from offering all that they have to contribute to organisations and advertising juries. Challenge the internal glass ceiling (psychological glass ceiling). “The psychological glass ceiling is defined as the barriers erected in women’s own minds that influence life defining decisions that we make and has a similar effect on our lives as external barriers do.” (Austin 200)

Secondly, is fear that we won’t be regarded as good enough. Fear has a very concrete power from keeping us from doing or saying the things that are our purpose which unfortunately allows people and systems to count on our silence to keep us exactly where we are. Keeping things comfortable means being quiet because that’s comfortable.

All comfort has done is maintain the status quo. We have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and be fearless to truly prevail and build our legacy or at least start the conversations.

BizcommunityWhat did you think of the campaign?

Mohamed: The campaign was fresh and synchronised in its approach, the emphasis on the prowess of the female lens and forthrightly taking a brave stance to encourage the balance and shift required in the industry.

What are you most looking forward to or excited about with regards to taking part in this year’s Gerety Awards judging?

Mohamed: Excellence. Advertising that approaches brands with confidence and not from a place of deficient is critical for business performance going forward, which will gain a brand and organisation fair acknowledgement and recognition.

Understanding the roadmap of the role of advertising - personal, practical and political:

The ‘personal’ is knowing what a brand stands for and owning an emotional territory.

The ‘practical’ is the level of the brand experience that adds practical value to consumers daily lives.

The ‘political’ is the brand's passion and point of view. Every company operates on laws of limited liability and thus owes every society a duty of care. How does a brand’s advertising showcase its role in society?

What is your hope for the next or future generations of women in advertising / the advertising industry?

Mohamed: Female leaders in advertising can empower other women by supporting and collaborating and challenging the organisational and systemic historical barriers that hinder women from being successful. Mentorship programmes and sponsorship programmes are effective approaches to empowering other women in the industry. An investment into these programmes at junior level is sacrosanct.

Mentoring: to enhance self-awareness.

Role models: exposing our teams to interesting women events so that they can see powerful women in leading roles within advertising. ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’, ‘See it, be it.’

Lastly, dialogue: encourage dialogue about gender differences, gender-based violence, what is harassment, owning their power, using their voice, defining boundaries, the right to say no within the work environment.

And what is your key message to fellow women in advertising this Women’s Month?

Mohamed: Our job as women is to ensure that each of us gets heard. We need to co-sign a code of conduct that says: “It’s our job, our duty to help other women rise, greatness comes not from a position but from helping build the future. We have an obligation to pull each other up.” We lift and others rise.

For more info, visit the Gerety Awards’ website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram, and follow Mohamed on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Jessica Tennant

Jess is Senior Editor: Marketing & Media at She is also a contributing writer. moc.ytinummoczib@swengnitekram
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